Trying to pick out budget options and differentials over the course of the season is a major part of having a successful FPL season. This weekly article will try to pick a few players who can help you catch up or kick on in your mini leagues.
First up is Tom Carroll, he is most people’s pick to follow in Etienne Capoue’s footsteps and take his pre-season form into the first couple of games of the season. At just £4.5M he is the perfect 5th midfielder for FPL teams. Although he is not a renowned goal scorer, he has the potential to really take off this season. He seems to be taking free kicks and corners in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s absence. So when Fernando Llorente returns around GW 3, we can expect to see with this additional threat at corners, a few assists from Carroll. He is considered by most to be a guaranteed starter in Paul Clement’s line ups, and is currently in just 6.3% of FPL teams.
For the opening 2 weeks of the season a strong budget and differential pick could be Alex Iwobi. Coming off a strong showing in the Community Shield, Iwobi looks the prime contender to take over whilst Alexis Sanchez regains his match fitness and recovers from an abdominal strain. Wenger has confirmed Alexis will miss the Friday night match against Leicester and has conceded he does not know when he will return. Given Arsenal’s first two games are Leicester (H) & Stoke (a) there is the potential for a few early returns from Iwobi. He is currently only in 2.7% of FPL teams and only costs a meagre £5.5M, allowing you to save money for big hitters elsewhere in your squad.
Another player who can save money in your opening day squad is Rob Elliot who comes in at just £4M and is currently expected to be Newcastle’s starting goalkeeper for the upcoming season. Coming off a fine end to the 15/16 season which saw him racking up save points in FPL, Elliot sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury. This kept him out of Newcastle’s Championship campaign until the final three games of the season. It is known that Benitez has interest in West Ham goalkeeper Adrian, but little movement has occurred on that front over the last couple of days. Newcastle have a kind schedule after their season opener with Spurs, and we could see some clean sheet potential to go alongside his expected high save points.
Another option in the midfield is Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic who took over penalty duties and free kicks last season. He’s a budget friendly option at just £5M, is expected to be in Frank de Boer’s starting line up to begin the season and is owned by just 1.8% of FPL managers . His only downside is his versatility, with de Boer having fielded him on the right hand side of a back three in pre season. This could lead to a lack of points from open play due to his defensive responsibilities.
In defence and capitalising on the vacated fullback spot due to an injured Nathaniel Clyne, is Trent Alexander-Arnold. Coming in at £4.5M he would be the cheapest way into a Liverpool defence that has two friendly opening games. First up is Watford (a), who scored just 40 total goals last season in the league, and will be missing Troy Deeney for the first couple of fixtures. This is followed by Crystal Palace (H) providing another strong opportunity for a clean sheet. With Champions League qualification fixtures scheduled either side of the Crystal Palace game it is likely that if Clyne is able to return for GW 2 he will be saved for the home leg of the Hoffenheim tie.
Forwards this year are a difficult bunch to find value for money without blowing our entire budget, but Jay Rodriguez has the opportunity to impress down the first seven matches of the season. Priced at just £6M following three injury plagued seasons, Jay Rod will be hoping for a repeat of 13/14 which saw him bag 15 Premier League goals. As evidenced by his strikes in pre season he hasn’t lost his goal scoring touch, and will set his sights on a potential (far away) recall to the England squad. Rodriguez will likely line up behind Salomon Rondon, as Tony Pulis prefers his front man to be strong target man. Jay Rod can also play on the left hand side of the midfield in a 4-5-1 increasing his chances of making the starting line up on a regular basis. Owned by a mere 3.2% he could provide an extra boost to help you take an early lead on your mini league rivals.